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What’s going on at The Higgins Art Gallery & Museum, Bedford?

May - September 2012


The Higgins Art Gallery & Museum, Bedford

The Higgins Art Gallery & Museum, Bedford

It’s official! Our new name and brand is...

We are very pleased to be able to unveil our new name and brand, The Higgins Art Gallery & Museum, Bedford. The new name and brand for the former Cecil Higgins Art Gallery & Bedford Museum brings a fresh new look and provides a glimpse of what is to come when we reopen in Spring 2013. They mark a new beginning for the art gallery and museum, illustrating the bringing together of the organisations and the buildings.


Daniel Sutton from Designmap, the appointed designers for the redevelopment project, said:

The Higgins colour palette

“For The Higgins we wanted to create a vibrant, contemporary and flexible brand identity. It reflects both the origins of the collections and the aspirations of The Higgins as a cultural organisation of international significance.”

We love our new look and name. It is a simple solution, but it brings together a lot of ideas about the history of the organisations, the site, and the collections as well as looking to our future. The Higgins name, the site at Castle Close and the development of the art gallery and museum are intrinsically linked. The Higgins family moved to Bedford in the 1820s, founding the brewery at Castle Close and building the family home next to it. The brewery remained in the Higgins family until 1928 when Cecil Higgins, then aged 72, decided to sell it to Wells & Winch Ltd in order to focus on his ambition to found a museum. Cecil Higgins Art Gallery opened in 1949 in the house that had been his family home. Bedford Museum moved into the former Higgins & Sons Brewery in 1981.

The Higgins ‘H’ itself is symbolic of the joining of Cecil Higgins Art Gallery and Bedford Museum, as the cross-bar connects the two upright strokes. The font, designed in 1845, is contemporary to the brewery buildings, and the palette is inspired by the work of designer Edward Bawden. The Edward Bawden archive, part of the Cecil Higgins Collection, is one of The Higgins’ great treasures and a constant source of inspiration.

Workers at the gates of Higgins & Sons Brewery c.1910


Also on 5th May:

Lace in Place at 1 St Paul’s Square, Bedford from 2pm Join Bedford Creative Arts and artist Arabel Rosillo de Blas as they unveil Lace in Place. Inspired by the rich history of lace making in Bedford, Arabel has been collaborating with local expert lace makers and novices alike, to create a major new public art installation for Bedford town centre.

A Pop-Up Museum Event Saturday 5th May 11am - 4pm

Free Event

On the lawn in front of The Higgins, Castle Lane, Bedford. 4

Is there a thing that absolutely represents you? That you would rescue from a burning building? That goes everywhere with you or that has been on your mantelpiece for as long as you can remember? Bring that thing along to the pop-up museum!

objects others have brought and talk with people about the things they have brought along. Stay as long as you wish.There are no rules for a pop-up museum; the simple aim is to start conversations with all sorts of people, about the things you love. If the thing you want to bring is very valuable, fragile or large why not bring a photograph along instead?

A pop-up museum is a museum that only lasts for one day. The museum is made up of all the objects that you bring with you. You write a museum label for your object, have a look at the

Note: Please don’t leave your things unattended at the pop-up museum. The Higgins accepts no responsibility for items lost, damaged or stolen during the event.

To celebrate the launch of our new name and brand we are holding a pop-up museum.


Robot and museum label for Pop-Up Museum

The Higgins Art Gallery & Museum, Bedford

The Higgins Art Gallery & Museum, Bedford

Coming soon... Big Victorian Jubilee Picnic

The Great Siege of Bedford Castle, 1224

Sunday 3rd June 11am – 3pm - Free family event

Wednesday 6th June - Wootton Village Hall Thursday 7th June - Great Denham Kick-about Area (off Mercia Way) Friday 8th June - Wixams Village Hall

On the lawn in front of The Higgins, off Newnham Rd. Let the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations begin! Join the flag and buntingmaking-fest on The Higgins lawn, dress up and bring a picnic.

SAW – Saturday Archaeology Workshops 6

Saturday 28th April - Site Visit Visit to Leicester’s Jewry Wall Museum to find out more about the Roman archaeology there.

All sessions take place from 10am - 12pm. Come and reenact the Great Siege of Bedford Castle with costumes and props. The session is suitable for children aged 9 - 16, costs £1, booking essential. Contact Laura Pottinger for more information on or 01234 718627.

Flags of the World Friday 3rd August from 7.30pm - International Athletics Stadium Barkers Lane, Bedford, MK41 9SB

Saturday 19th May - Children in Archaeology How can we find out more about children in the past?

Join us to celebrate the launch of the Olympic Big Screen – watch the athletics LIVE and cheer on your favourite nations. Be a part of our flag parade, followed by the opportunity to break fast together, make iftar and mark Ramadan at 8.50pm.

Saturday 23rd May - Olympics & Sports in Archaeology The old games are the best games!

International Olympicnic and Pop-up Museum Saturday 4th August 12 - 4pm - International Athletics Stadium, Barkers Lane, Bedford, MK41 9SB

Monthly sessions for children interested in archaeology, aged 8 – 16. For further details please contact: The Jewry Wall Museum at Leicester

Bring a picnic and a ‘thing’ for our pop-up museum that says something about your home country or favourite nation and enjoy free activities for all the family, games, quizzes and a chance to talk and share stories about your own and other cultures.


The Higgins Art Gallery & Museum, Bedford

The Higgins Art Gallery & Museum, Bedford

Coming soon... Carers Exhibition - The World Around Us

Join the Friends...

26th April - 31st May - Bedford Tourist Information Centre

The Friends support the art gallery and museum with a regular programme of talks, outings and fundraising events. Everyone is welcome to Friends events, although there is a charge for nonmembers. To become a member is £18 per year, £15 for Senior Citizens or £8 for students. To join the Friends contact Ann Ayres on 01234 359558 or

Linocut making


We have been working in partnership with Carers in Bedfordshire to create artworks inspired by the work of Edward Bawden. The work produced during their six-week course will be on display at Bedford Tourist Information Centre. If you are a Family Carer and would like to join please contact

Reminiscence Coffee Mornings Thursday 3rd May and Thursday 7th June, 11am - 12.30pm Bunyan Meeting Rooms, Mill Street, Bedford, MK40 3EU These friendly meetings are a chance to share memories about a variety of topics over coffee and biscuits. Sessions are free although we do ask for a donation towards refreshments. During the last year we have enjoyed collecting memories on the theme of where you were when the war broke out. If you are part of a group that may wish to record some memories please contact Carmela Semeraro.

Pop-up Museum for Refugee Week Tuesday 19th June 11am - 6pm - Harpur Square, Bedford Join us for Refugee Week when we will be holding a pop-up museum at Harpur Square. The pop-up museum is made up of all the things you bring so it can’t happen without you. Bring something that reminds you of home,talk with others and find out more about Refugee Week

Friends events Tuesday 8th May - A Connoisseur’s Collection Talk by Tom Perrett, Head of Collections & Exhibitions, The Higgins. 7.30pm at the Performing Arts Complex, Bedford High School for Girls, Bromham Rd, Bedford, MK40 2BS. £6 for non-members. Exploring the origins of the Cecil Higgins Collection; followed by an update on plans for the redevelopment of the art gallery and museum + AGM.

Meissen teapot c. 1716 - 27 from the Cecil Higgins Collection

Thursday 12th July - Visit to Burghley House Join The Friends on a ‘Behind The Ropes’ tour of the magnificent Elizabethan mansion, Burghley House near Stamford, where you will have privileged access to the collection and the newly created Gardens of Surprise. For booking and further information about this trip contact David Fletcher on 01234 216194 or


The Higgins Art Gallery & Museum, Bedford

The Higgins Art Gallery & Museum, Bedford

Are you ready for a great summer in Bedford Borough?

The Embankment/Russell Park

01234 221955

With less than two months to go before the Diamond Jubilee weekend, final preparations are well underway for a great summer in Bedford Borough.

Web: Email:



In the space of two months, Bedford Borough will host Diamond Jubilee celebrations, the annual Kite Festival, the arrival of the Olympic Flame, the 2012 River Festival and the Olympic Live Site at Bedford International Athletic Stadium. The Diamond Jubilee weekend coincides with the Kite Festival this summer, which brings thousands of people to Russell Park and the Embankment every year. However, in Bedford Borough the Kite Festival is only the start of the Jubilee festivities! The semi final of the Battle of the bands as well as an enormous ‘It’s

a Knockout’ style competition, Teddy Bear’s Jubilee Picnic and band concerts will also take place across the long weekend – giving local residents plenty of opportunity to join in the fun! However, if you prefer a quieter weekend then you may be considering holding or helping to organise your own street party. The Council is also offering help for you as well! A series of workshops have taken place but help is still on offer. In most cases you will only need to fill in a single form and the Council is waiving the majority of fees involved as well as reducing the amount of notice which must be given from 12 weeks to just two!

Diamond Jubilee Weekend - 2nd to 5th June 2012 Saturday - Bedford International Kite Festival Sunday - Diamond Jubilee Street Party monday - Battle of the Bands tuesday - It’s A Knock-out! and Teddy Bear’s Picnic visit WWW.BEDFORDEVENTS.CO.UK for more information

Dragon Boats • Raft Races • Food & Drink • Music Stages • Carnival Parade • Sports Village Heritage Village • Arts & Craft • Extreme Sports • Fireworks • Funfair, Rides & much more!

On Sunday 8th July, Bedford welcomes the Olympic Flame into the borough as part of its 1,000 mile journey across the UK. Thousands of people are expected to line the route and cheer on the torchbearers as the Flame travels from Goldington Road, down Barkers Lane, along the Embankment and towards Cotton End. The 2012 River Festival takes place on 21st and 22nd July and is expected to attract more than 250,000 people to Russell Park and the Embankment across the weekend. The River Festival is the biggest free event in the region and one of the largest in the country and provides a huge range of entertainment and fun for the whole family. Bedford Borough will also be involved with the 2012 London Olympics when the International Athletics Stadium becomes an ‘Olympic Live Site’ between the 3rd

and 10th of August. A big screen will be showing the best of the action live throughout the week while local sports groups will be offering everyone the chance to have a go at a range of sports and activities, all for free!

Mayor of Bedford Borough Dave Hodgson, said:

It’s all set to be a great summer in Bedford Borough with entertainment and great events planned for the whole family. “All of the events will help to bring communities together, either along the Embankment, in Russell Park or wherever you live with the help of locally organised street parties. It all kicks off with the Diamond Jubilee weekend in June and I am sure local residents and visitors alike will thoroughly enjoy a great summer in Bedford Borough.”


The Higgins Art Gallery & Museum, Bedford

The Higgins Art Gallery & Museum, Bedford

Redevelopment News Structural work to the new, single entrance is almost complete. It features a double-height, glass-fronted area to create a light and airy feel and give more space for visitors. The entrance area will also house the shop and will link through to a brand new café.


The Higgins Art Gallery & Museum, Bedford is due to reopen to the public in Spring 2013. With only a year to go, work on site is progressing quickly…


Inside the building, work to the new galleries and exhibition areas is well underway. New activity areas are also being created to provide flexible, up-todate spaces for our wide-ranging events programme.

With most of the structural work complete, scaffolding from the front of the building is now coming down. Reinstating the ‘Higgins & Sons Ltd Castle Brewery’ lettering emphasises the history of the site – along with the use of heritage paint colours it gives a feel for how the buildings might have looked in Victorian times. The old archaeology gallery, ready to be refitted

Once the main building work is finished, there is a period of exhibition fit-out. This is when the display cases, graphics and interactives are all installed and tested. Following that, we’ll be moving in the many thousands of objects that are going on display…and then opening the doors to welcome visitors!

The new entrance and shop area

The Higgins Art Gallery & Museum, Bedford

The Higgins Art Gallery & Museum, Bedford

News from the Stores Cataloguing, cleaning, organising conservation work, researching and writing text – getting the collections ready to go back on display is a monumental task. As well as displaying some familiar, well-loved objects in the redeveloped galleries, we’ll be featuring lots of intriguing new stories. Here’s just a taste of what we’ve been doing…


‘I’ve been finding out about the lives and adventures of people who donated objects in the 1920s and ‘30s, when Bedford was quite a different place to the

Bedfordshire for more than 200 years. One of our key collections comes from the family of Thomazin Lester, pictured here, who set up a lace business in Bedford around 1811.

town we know today. One of the collectors we’ll feature is Henry Toke Munn (18641952), an entrepreneur and adventurer who travelled to Canada aged 22. Munn became a farmer, horse breeder, hunter, gold prospector, store keeper and fur trader. He spent a long time in the Arctic, working closely with the Inuit people. After visiting Bedford to speak about his travels, Munn donated a number of objects, including this model Inuit kayak.’ Kristian

Thomazin Lester

‘I’ve been looking at lace-making, an important cottage industry for

15 ‘I’ve been researching some of the earliest objects in the collections, stone hand axes, some of which are over 200,000 years old, that were used by the first inhabitants of this area. Some of these hand axes were found in the 1860s by James Wyatt, founder of the Bedford Times newspaper and part-time geologist, in gravel pits near Biddenham. Wyatt found stone tools alongside the fossilised

Ivory man in kayak, donated by Henry Toke Munn

As well as exploring the stories of the lace-makers, we’ll be showing some of the beautiful products that were made – including examples of Bedfordshire Maltese Lace, our ‘local’ style that was popular in the 19th century.’ Lydia

Hand axes from The Higgins

remains of long extinct animals like woolly mammoth. His discoveries helped to prove that humankind was a lot older than most people thought at the time.’ Liz

Visit for more news from the stores or use your phone to scan this QR Code to visit straight away!

The Higgins Art Gallery & Museum, Bedford

Contact Us The Higgins Art Gallery & Museum, Bedford is currently closed for redevelopment.

How to find us... Mill Street Church


tle Q


Swan Hotel

Castle Mound

ad am Ro

The Lawn


We are scheduled to reopen in Spring 2013. In the meantime we have a lively programme of events and activities. Keep an eye on our website for all the latest news.

eet (A6) High Str

Castle Lane

The Embankment

Stay in touch... We have a Facebook page

You can follow us on Twitter

The Higgins Art Gallery & Museum Castle Lane Bedford MK40 3XD t: 01234 718618 f: 01234 718619 e: w: The Higgins Art Gallery & Museum, Bedford is a Bedford Borough Council Cultural Service. Home of the Cecil Higgins Collection. ENV025_12

The Higgins Art Gallery & Museum, Bedford  

What's on, April - September 2012

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